How to Survive the Long, (sometimes) Hot Summer Holidays

So, the summer holidays are upon us and I guess I’m not alone when I admit that this brings with it mixed emotions of excitment, trepidation and fear?  

I still remember that joy of finishing school on the last day of term knowing that the long, hot summer holidays were finally here. (was the weather always hot when we were kids or is it selective memory?)  6 weeks as a kid felt like forever……it still does but maybe not in quite the same way!  I am now faced with the more boring, grown up reality of how on earth are we going to fill the days, particularly the wet, grey ones.  

Here are just a few ideas that I’ve come up with but I’d love to hear others as you can never have enough.

The Beach

Bucket and Spade

Who doesn’t love playing with a bucket and spade on the beach?   We are so lucky living in the south west as we have so many beaches to choose from.  Our go-to beaches of choice are probably Exmouth and Dawlish Warren as they are the closest (& Dawlish Warren is always a favourite with my train obsessed little boy).  However, there are as many different beaches as there are interests in this part of the world.  

  • Surfing - Can’t beat the north coast - Woolacombe, Croyde, Bude, Newquay, this list is endless - or check out Bantham on the south coast, with it’s beautiful view of Burgh Island.

  • Exploring - Smugglers’ Tunnel to Ness Cove in Shaldon was always an adventure as a kid.

  • Fossil hunting - Charmouth is a treasure trove,

  • Rock pooling - I’ve never found anywhere better than Holcombe beach & Exmouth is good near the Lifeboat Station, but it depends a bit how the sea has shifted the sand. (always check the tides!!)

  • Sheltered coves - great for swimming and SUPing- the colour of the water at the little coves around Salcombe could be the Med.

Wild Swimming

The beautiful Salmon Leaps, River Teign

The beautiful Salmon Leaps, River Teign

Have you ever swam in one of the rivers on the Moor?  Wow, they are cold but so much fun!  Find a peaceful stretch and there are all sorts of possibilities - still water to swim and duck dive in, mini-rapids to slide down and plenty of flat rocks for a post-swim picnic. Spitchwick Common is always popular as it has a lovely sandy beach and rocks to climb and all a short walk from the car park, but it can get busy.   If you have bigger kids, Salmon Leaps on the Teign near Whiddon Down is amazing. It is a bit of a walk to get there but so worth it and nothing beats the feeling of seeing the world from a duck’s eye view.   I’d love to hear other wild swimming spots you know of.


Summer in the City

Don't forget to look up! Just a small part of the amazing ceiling of Exeter Cathedral

Don't forget to look up! Just a small part of the amazing ceiling of Exeter Cathedral

Voted Museum of the Year in 2012, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (aka RAMM) is a treasure trove of different things to look at from creepy crawlies and butterflies to indigenous peoples from around the world and of course, Gerald the Giraffe - and if like mine, your kids are a bit little to understand a lot of the exhibts, the corridors are just amazing to run along!  (sorry everyone!). The Cathedral also offers a local resident’s card which gives you access for a year on provision of a piece of ID. Who could fail to be amazed by the size of the place and the spectacular roof?  Of course, there are also the numerous parks to explore, the library is always a winner, and if you have older kids then why not consider a Red Coat Tour.  My husband and I did a couple a few years back and it was amazing how much we learned about our own city.  

Farm Shops and Garden Centres

A family trip to the garden centre used to be the most boring activity imaginable when I was a kid but now they are so much more than they were, with all manner of things to explore (& often the possibility of cake at the end) and some of the local farm shops are amazing now.  Darts Farm needs to introduction to Devonians but there are so many others that aren’t quite so busy.  Greendale Farm Shop is a particular favourite with us as not only are there some really cool animals; including an ostrich and an emu (so I really should be able to figure out which is which but never do) but they also have some old tractors to play on.  On the subject of tractors, Kenniford Farm Shop has a great little play area with toy John Deeres and you can watch the pigs and piglets in a viewing area.  What more could a little boy want?  Oh, and the sausages are amazing! 

The Inevitable Wet Day

Lets face it, there will be some and we are all too familiar with that sinking feeling when we see the forecast.  Cooking is always popular in our house, with chocolate cornflake cakes a particular favourite, along with Play-Doh and drawing. A clothes airer and some sheets make a fab den which can provide entertainment for hours.   And, the reality is that the rain rarely actually lasts all day anyway.

The temptation to lick the bowl can be too much to resist

The temptation to lick the bowl can be too much to resist

A Ticket to Ride

Not everyone’s cup of tea I grant you, but nothing is quite as exciting as a bus ride for my little one.  £3.90 buys you a day-rider ticket which allows you unlimited travel around Exeter for the day, and on some days, £3.90 for a chance of scene and a peaceful little person seems like excellent value to me!! 

What have I missed?  There must be loads of other, low cost ways to spend the day that I haven’t thought about. I’d really love to hear your suggestions before I resort to days at B&Q or Pets at Home…..there’s always a danger I will come back with a gerbil or rabbit!